Jamie Campbell-Walter Q&A

Jamie Campbell-Walter took the FIA GT championship in emphatic style this year with the help of sportscar stalwart and ex Formula 1 driver Julian Bailey. The British pair took the championship at the final round of the series at Magny-Cours behind the wheel of a Lister and in so doing gave the British sportscar manufacturer it's first ever international title in its almost 50-year history

Jamie Campbell-Walter Q&A

Autosport.com caught up with the newly-married Campbell-Walter to find out how he coped with Bailey as a team mate, how sweet victory tasted and what the future holds for Britain's fastest rising sportscar talent.

"Well I've got married and been on my honeymoon since then, so I guess it does. But I thoroughly enjoyed the season, it's been really good and it's nice to have everybody's hard work finally pay off. From Lister's point of view it's been a long time coming. The company was started back in 1953 and Laurence [Pearce, Lister team owner] took over in 1988 which is a long time to wait for an international championship. To see Brian Lister's face when we clinched the title was actually quite emotional."

"It's obviously great to win an international championship and good to work with Jules [Bailey] to help Lister, but in CV terms it's hopefully set me up as a name for the future and for a long time to come."

"Well, yes and no. No because I went down in car size. The GT1 car was a bit of a beast to drive. With an extra 100 horsepower and carbon fibre-brakes and tub it was a very, very quick car. So using the GT2 car in the International series was in some ways easier. But I had never really raced in Europe before, so absolutely everything was new to me apart from Silverstone and we also didn't do any pre-season testing abroad. So it was a case of arrive on Thursday afternoon, a quick whip round on the moped and then 'right I've learnt that one and lets get on with it."

"I learnt more last year definitely. In terms of pace I first drove this year's car at Donington for about 15 laps and we did almost identical times. The car was then flown out to Valencia for the first round and after the opening free practice session I ended up quickest overall, which was obviously great. Julian was a bit miffed, being the number one in the team, but there was only about a thousandth of a second between us, and in the races we were about 50/50 on pace. Testing was where we really pushed and we ended up pretty squared up there as well, which is a great boost for my confidence and hopefully I've proved to the world that I can match anyone on my day."

"Yes. That decision was a joint one between the drivers and the team. Jules wasn't so much feeling the pressure, but he'd had the pressure of starting all season and there was only a four-and-a-half point lead so he just said to me 'why don't you do the bloody start?' I was feeling quite confident that weekend and Laurence could see that so he said 'don't worry, Jamie can do it, he's been with us for two years and we know what he's like.' And that was it. It was as simple as that - I started the race. We didn't decide until half an hour before the start of the race in the back of the truck!"

"The sprint car for 2001 will be a new version of the existing car which will incorporate modifications carried out this year into the original design, rather than having them as add-ons. For 2002 the plan is to build a car that is capable of doing a 24-hour race in terms of engine, gearbox and bascially the whole drivetrain. The car will also have a back-end à la Audi, so the whole rear of the car can be changed in a matter of minutes."

"It all depends how quickly the fabricators get on and do it, and if it's ready then obviously we'll use it. The other problem is that some of the cars are designed to do 24-hour races like Chrysler and Porsche, whereas the Lister is designed as a sprint car and is only reliable enough to do three hours. It could be made to be reliable enough for 24 hours, but it's a case of chequebook engineering. Chrysler and Porsche have plenty of money and Lister doesn't. In fact it's amazing what we've achieved on our budget which probably wouldn't even cover Mercedes' hospitality spending for a year."

"Well I'm working on it, watch this space. I'm talking to a few people. My idea of winning Le Mans is winning it outright. Winning your class? Alright you win the class, and obviously Lister would be a GTS car, but every driver dreams of winning Le Mans. If you got offered a drive in a Viper, or a Lister, or a Corvette then obviously you'd take it and if you won the class you'd say 'I won Le Mans.' But in real terms you've got to win it overall and ultimately that's where I want to be."

"Yes, unless Laurence decides to go all out and build a Le Mans winner, which he might do. Lister is growing as a company and it's got some good private backing. But what Laurence doesn't want to do is grow too quickly because you can sink just as quickly. Lister's won the FIA and British GT titles and it'll do the FIA championship again next year and then Le Mans."

"Possibly. There's talk of it and it's possible, but it's not a definite. I think that's where the competition is. The FIA GTs get a lot stick and people seem to think the cars are not as competitive, but we ran at the ALMS meeting at Silverstone and we beat the ORECA Viper qualifying time by one tenth [of a second] with 100kg extra weight and they had carbon-fibre brakes. It was the same at the last round where the Carsport Holland Viper was just two tenths behind us. They then flew straight to Las Vegas and qualified just one tenth behind Beretta's Viper in the ALMS race - so what if we had been there with our Lister? Roll on 2002."

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